August 31, 2023 UW-Madison engineers receive $4.6M in DOE nuclear research awards Written By: Adam Malecek Departments: Civil & Environmental Engineering|Industrial & Systems Engineering|Materials Science & Engineering|Mechanical Engineering|Nuclear Engineering & Engineering Physics Categories: Faculty|Grants|Research The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded more than $41.2 million through its Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) to support university-led nuclear energy research and development projects, including a total of $4.6 million for projects led by University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers. UW-Madison is the lead institution for four of the 43 university-led research and development projects awarded funding in 2023. NEUP seeks to maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear research across the country by providing top science and engineering faculty and their students with opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities. Mark Anderson Mark Anderson (PI), Consolidated Papers Associate Professor in mechanical engineering at UW-Madison, received $1 million for a project that will experimentally investigate the thermal-hydraulics performance of silicon carbide compared to other accident tolerant fuel cladding materials under accident scenarios. The project will advance the understanding of the operation and optimization of heat pipes for advanced nuclear reactors. Tiago Moreira, a scientist in mechanical engineering, and Allison Mahvi, a mechanical engineering assistant professor, are UW-Madison collaborators on the project, along with researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Westinghouse, General Atomics and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Kaibo Liu Kaibo Liu (PI), a professor of industrial and systems engineering at UW-Madison, received $1 million for a research project that aims to provide technical solutions to unique cybersecurity challenges in future microreactor fleet through cyber-informed design, real-time anomaly detection, dynamic monitoring and cost-effective mitigation strategies. The efforts will significantly improve the economics and effectiveness of cybersecurity risk management in future microreactor fleets. Professor Laura Albert, the David Gustafson Department Chair of Industrial and Systems Engineering at UW-Madison, is a collaborator on the project, along with researchers from the University of Michigan, Georgia Institute of Technology and Idaho National Laboratory. Yongfeng Zhang Yongfeng Zhang (PI), an assistant professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics at UW-Madison, received $999,983 for a project that aims to gain a fundamental understanding of the impact of moisture and salt chemistry on corrosion of nickel-chromium alloys in molten chloride salts. The researchers will design a novel approach coupling multiscale simulations and experiments to determine salt acidity, its dependence on salt composition, and its effects on the transport of H2O and chromium ions and the corrosion kinetics of nickel-chromium alloys in chloride salt. UW-Madison collaborators include Kumar Sridharan, Grainger Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics (NEEP) and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and NEEP Associate Professor Adrien Couet, along with researchers from the University of Florida, Los Alamos National Laboratory and TerraPower. Mike Wagner Mike Wagner (PI), an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UW-Madison, received $1 million for a research project that aims to develop an integrated nuclear system that would use electricity and waste heat to operate a desalination and mining process from adjacent seawater. The desalination approach targets zero-liquid discharge with multiple marketable minerals extracted. Because the ability of nuclear facilities to load follow is increasingly important, the researchers will incorporate a cold thermal storage system. The team will experimentally validate the desalination and mineral extraction process at lab scale. UW-Madison collaborators include NEEP Assistant Professor Ben Lindley, mechanical engineering professors Mark Anderson and Luca Mastropasqua, and Mohan Qin, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, along with researchers from Idaho National Laboratory and Westinghouse. Juliana Pacheco Duarte In addition, Juliana Pacheco Duarte, an assistant professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics at UW-Madison, received a U.S. Department of Energy distinguished early career program award. Duarte is one of only five faculty in the United States to receive the award in 2023. The program invests in the innovative research and education programs of outstanding early-career university faculty poised to pave new lines of inquiry and advance mission-critical research directions in nuclear energy. With the $625,000 award over five years, Duarte will conduct experiments and harness machine learning techniques to answer crucial questions about transient critical heat flux in light water reactors. Read more about Duarte’s research project here. Paul Wilson, the Grainger Professor of Nuclear Engineering and chair of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics at UW-Madison, is a collaborator on a project led by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign that will add capabilities to Cyclus, an agent-based fuel cycle simulator, to address current and future fuel cycle and supply chain challenges. This project is motivated, in part, by recent events in the U.S. commercial nuclear fuel supply chains, such as the need to develop a non-Russian-based commercial supply of High-Assay Low Enriched Uranium, the closure at the Westinghouse Columbia facility in 2016, and the temporary closure of the CoverDyn conversion facility in 2004. Each of these events highlights the need for modeling capabilities that can accurately account for supply chain disruptions and assist decision makers and key stakeholders.